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Hockey player punches referee in face after penalty, knocks official to ice. Punch also knocks player out of league for good

Image source: Twitter video screenshot via @tarpsoffmclovin, composite

An ice hockey player from the U.S. Premier Hockey League was caught on video punching a referee in the face during a game Sunday and is now facing a lifetime ban from the league, Fox News reported.

What are the details?

The cable network said that during the first period of a game between the South Shore Kings and the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights, an official called a penalty against Paul Halloran of the Kings.

The official and Halloran — who wears number 19 jersey— appeared to get tangled up against the rink wall, and the player appeared to push off the official, after which the official penalized him.

Video then shows Halloran skating off the ice and then turning toward that same official and punching him in the the face. Immediately after the punch it appeared the player knocked or pushed the official down to the ice.

The official quickly got up and appeared to be OK, Fox News said.

USPHL Commissioner Bob Turow issued the following statement: "The action taken today by a USPHL player is completely unacceptable in the USPHL. The USPHL has zero tolerance for any player striking any official, at any time. The player in question's actions have led to a lifetime ban. The incident is currently being investigated by local authorities and as such the USPHL will have no further comments at this time.”

The Kings are part of the league's New England Division. Halloran, 20, plays left wing and is tied for second on the team with 15 goals.

What was the reaction?

Reaction to the punch seemed mixed, with some blaming the player and others blaming the referee.

One Twitter commenter noted that "the ref 'getting in the way' doesn't justify a punch. This happens in football, basketball, any sport, the ref can get in the way or say something one doesn't like. That doesn't mean you get to physically assault them."

But another commenter observed that "the ref was obviously looking for a fight and should also be suspended. Not defending the kid, but the referee escalated a situation where he should just have said 'sorry, I got in the way' and moved on. Instead he started showing aggression and reaped what he sowed. No sympathy."

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